Washington (CNN) - What's on the mind of the man often called "Bush's Brain"? In an interview with CNN Wednesday, Rove wondered if the Tea Party movement will help, or hurt, Republicans. And he said his former ally-turned-critic, onetime White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, is talking "strange."
The former senior adviser to President Bush told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the Tea Party movement is a wide and diverse group, but said he worries the movement might harm the GOP.
"It will hurt the Republican Party if some elements of the Tea Party decide to become third party advocates, because it will split the conservative vote," he said.
Despite that concern, Rove said he believes the vast majority of tea partiers "are trying to figure out, in a decentralized, grassroots way, how they can remain a force, a movement, that holds the feet of elected officials in both parties to the fire."
Meanwhile, Rove was reserved in responding to fresh and stinging criticism from McClellan - Rove's first time doing so.
Washington (CNN) - The anti-tax Club for Growth has started a blitz of robocalls attacking Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, a three-term incumbent being challenged on his right flank by multiple Republican candidates.
"Since Utahans last sent Sen. Bob Bennett to Washington, he voted to bail out Wall Street, voted for billions in wasteful spending like Alaska's 'Bridge to Nowhere,'" the 30-second call says. "Even joined with liberals supporting big government healthcare."
A spokesman for the Club said the calls have been going out for about a week.
"Had enough?," the call asks, before telling listeners to "vote for a change" in the state's March 23 Republican precinct caucuses. Those caucuses will determine delegates to the state GOP convention, where the party's Senate nominee will be selected.
The script is the same as an anti-Bennett television ad launched by the Club last week.
Update 5:25 p.m.: When reached for comment, campaign spokesman Jim Bennett told CNN that, "Bob Bennett is leading the fight against Obamacare. This is simply more of the same dishonest nonsense from an out-of-state special interest group trying to tell Utahns how to think. It's dirty politics, and Utah voters are smart enough not to fall for it."
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate on Wednesday approved a wide-ranging bill that would push back the deadline to file for extended unemployment insurance until year-end and extends dozens of expired tax breaks.
The bill, passed by a 62-36 vote, is the latest job creation effort to go before lawmakers, though it contains virtually no new initiatives. Its price tag has wavered between $140 billion and $150 billion, which is partially offset. Its next stop is the House.
Full story on CNNMoney.com
Washington (CNN) - Reese Witherspoon is getting serious.
Witherspoon told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday about her quest to stop violence against women around the world. She said she isn't alone in her fight.
"I think when you have strong powerful women standing up and speaking out about these issues, not to mention how many women represent us in the Senate and the House of Representatives, you're going to start to see a major change in these areas," stated the actress.
The actress is in town to attend the 2010 International Women of Courage Awards along with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Witherspoon is a representative of the Avon Foundation and is partnering with the non-profit group Vital Voices to shine a light on the difficult issues women face as a result of abuse.
Watch the full interview at 6 p.m. EST on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Washington (CNN) - In the ongoing political drama involving sex, lies, videotape and John Edwards – a judge in North Carolina added a new level of suspense: a threat of jail time.
Former Edwards aide Andrew Young could soon be sent to jail, along with his wife, for contempt of court. State Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones said he wants a full explanation of how the couple handled items sought by Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter, including a purported sex tape between her and the two-time presidential candidate, according to CNN affiliate WTVD in Raleigh-Durham.
On the stand, Young pleaded he'd turned over all the items being sought, telling the judge, "I swear I'm trying to tell you the truth." He added, "It's been a long time ago."
The purported sex tape between Edwards and Hunter is among the bombshells Young makes in his book, "The Politician." Edwards previously admitted having an affair with Hunter and, later, admitted being the father of Hunter's daughter.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The United States dropped a record $220.9 billion further into the red in February, the Treasury Department reported Wednesday.
The shortfall was up from the previous record $193.9 billion shortfall in February last year.
It's the 17th straight month that the U.S. government has posted deficits. The last time the government posted a monthly surplus was in September 2008, when the government reduced the deficit by $45.7 billion.
The cumulative deficit for fiscal 2010, which started in October, reached $651.6 billion, up from $589.8 billion in the same period the year before. The Obama administration is forecasting that the deficit will hit $1.56 trillion this year.
Former President Bill Clinton and Bill Gates testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - Aside from a moral obligation, improving the health of people in other nations is smart foreign policy, former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday.
"We live in an interdependent world in which we have learned the hard way that no matter how brilliantly our forces perform, we can not kill, jail or occupy all of our adversaries," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in discussing why the issue of global health should be important to the United States.
"We have to build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries," Clinton said. "That's what foreign policy's about. ...if people think you care whether their children live or die, you don't have to send our young people off to war as often," he said.
He and Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft and the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, testified on global health before the committee. Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation, which works on global initiatives, including the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative.
Washington (CNN) - Another high-profile Republican is backing Sen. John McCain's bid for a fifth term in the Senate.
McCain's campaign announced Wednesday that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has endorsed the Arizona Senator.
"As we continue to face tough challenges both at home and abroad, America needs leaders like Senator John McCain in the United States Senate," said Bush. "John is a proven conservative leader committed to reducing taxes, fighting wasteful spending and keeping America safe."
McCain is facing a challenge on his right from former Arizona congressman and talk show host J.D. Hayworth.
Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - It's a grassroots protest movement composed of the newly politicized and people distrustful of hierarchy. So how is it possible to be an illegitimate Tea Party member?
Ask Republicans in Nevada. Some are accusing Jon Scott Ashjian, a new Tea Party candidate running for U.S. Senate, of being a fake. The allegation? He was put in the race by agents of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to siphon votes from the GOP.
"No doubt about it", says Danny Tarkanian, one of the many Republican senate candidates hoping to challenge Reid in November. "Nobody in the Tea Party knows who he is. He didn't know any of the principles of the Tea Party," Tarkanian tells CNN. He even accuses "Harry Reid's staff, campaign, whatever" of picking Ashjian because he's Armenian, as is Tarkanian. He explains, "They know the Armenians are very close they'll vote for each other."
Sue Lowden, the Republican front-runner in the Senate primary according to recent polls, is the former Nevada Republican Party chair and seems to be the Republicans' best hope of unseating Harry Reid in November. Or at least she did, until Ashjian got into the race. Lowden says she's been very active with Tea Party groups in Nevada. "I am a Tea Party voter, absolutely." Which is why she tells us she finds it "a little strange" that Ashjian is emerging now. "I don't know who this person is. He's never been involved with anything that I'm aware of in this state." She doesn't know if he's a spoiler. "We'll find out for sure," she promises, adding "I've never seen him at one of our tea parties, by the way."
Washington (CNN) - The Democrat who hopes to keep President Obama's old Senate seat blue was at the White House on Tuesday.
Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois State Treasurer and Senate candidate, met with administration officials while he was in Washington, D.C. for a Greek Independence Day celebration.
"My meetings today at the White House have been very productive," Giannoulias said in a statement. "I want to help the president change the broken system here in Washington."
Giannoulias will face Republican Rep. Mark Kirk in November, and has in recent weeks faced a series of questions about his role in the management of his family's bank.
White House Press Secretary offered measured support for Giannoulias when asked about the visit.